Key strikeout by Nolasco helps lead Marlins to 6-3 win over Braves

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- The 1,000th career strikeout will be one that Ricky Nolasco will remember because of the situation and the victim.

Nolasco became the first Miami player to reach the milestone when he fanned Atlanta catcher Brian McCann in the sixth inning with a runner on third base. The strikeout was instrumental in helping the Marlins beat the Braves 6-3 on a rainy night at Turner Field.

Nolasco (5-8) had been victimized by McCann for a home run in the fourth inning, but this time got the best of his nemesis, who represented the tying run.

"I'm happy with Ricky. He pitched well," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "It was fun to watch him. He battled. That pretty much sums up Ricky."

Nolasco pitched seven innings, allowed two runs on six hits and struck out seven. He was able to end a streak of three consecutive losses in Atlanta and has now allowed three or fewer runs in seven of his last nine starts.

"He was great," Redmond said. "He gave up a couple of runs early but he was in complete control."

Nolasco, a control pitcher, seemed oblivious to the rain that fell throughout the entire game. Nolasco changed speeds and used a fastball effectively. He threw 96 pitches, 62 of them for strikes.

"He used the fastball more tonight and it made his breaking ball more effective," Redmond said.

Redmond said he considered bringing Nolasco back to start the eighth inning, but opted for a pinch-hitter in the when the Marlins rallied for insurance runs.

Steve Cishek got the final two outs in the ninth to bail out setup man Mike Dunn, who allowed two hits and one run, and recorded his 16th save. Cishek retired pinch-hitter Tyler Pastornicky, the potential tying run, on a slow comebacker to the mound to end the game.

Atlanta starter Mike Minor (8-4) pitched six innings and struck out nine, but gave up four runs, three of them coming on Justin Ruggiano's fifth-inning home run that erased a 2-0 deficit. Minor, at one time considered Atlanta's ace, has not won since June 9.

"He's still the same guy who gives you a chance to win," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "When he left the game it was 4-2. I think he's fine. He's giving us an opportunity to win."

Minor's biggest mistake came in the fifth inning and also involved Nolasco. Miami's Donovan Solano led off with a double and went to third on a wild pitch. It appeared Minor would escape the inning after he struck out Adeiny Hechavarria and Jeff Mathis. But Nolasco worked him for a walk and Ruggiano delivered his team-leading 12th homer into the left field seats to give Miami a 3-2 lead.

"That two-out walk to the pitcher ... it starts so innocently, a two-out walk and bam," Gonzalez said.

Minor said he was having trouble gripping the ball that inning because of the rain.

"I was trying to throw the ball down the middle," he said. "I didn't complain because both pitchers were pitching in it. (Against Ruggiano) I was just trying to throw a strike and I give up a home run."

The Marlins tacked on another run in the sixth inning. Placido Polanco singled with one out and scored when Hechavarria delivered a two-out double in the gap.

Miami got two insurance runs off reliever Cory Gearrin in the eighth on a two-run double by Jeff Mathis.

The win broke Miami's eight-game losing streak to Atlanta, who won the first four meetings between the clubs this season.

With heavier rains expected on the Fourth of July, the teams played through conditions that ranged from drizzle to light rain.

"Conditions were terrible," Redmond said. "They said it might drizzle a little bit, but I'm sure it did more than drizzle."

Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman, who had two hits, said, "It's always a challenge. It's not fun to when you see drops of water on the bill of your hat, but you've got to battle through it. The other team has to deal with it, too."

NOTES: The Marlins will activate RHP Henderson Alvarez off the 60-day disabled list prior to Thursday's series finale, and he will get his first start of the season. Alvarez, who has been out with right shoulder inflammation, was acquired in the 12-player trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason. He was 2-0 with a 1.11 ERA in four rehab starts. RHP Julio Teheran will start Thursday for the Braves. ... Upton was back in the lineup after leaving Tuesday's game early because of muscle spasms in his forearm. ... The game started 10 minutes late because of inclement weather.
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